Monday 17 October 2016

Flirt With Danger mini-album

The Flirt With Danger mini-album is available on pre-release at:

If you're outside the UK, with the weakness of sterling, it will cost you precious little.

Created in my own studio, The Space Underground, and professionally mastered at Metropolis Mastering.

Features the following amazing atompunk neo-rockabilly tracks:
  • Even Spooks Need To Rock & Roll
  • Bikini Atoll Surfer Dude
  • Dirty Monkey
  • Dr Manhatten
  • The Mafia Stole My House
  • Silicone Sex Doll (Turned Terminator)

Idea for tape loop simulation in Logic Pro

Make up a short section of music, say, 13 seconds. Copy, mix differently and chop to 11 seconds. Bounce then pull both back in to new project as separate tracks and loop. Will drift out of sync and re-sync at 13 x 11 secs at 2 mins 23 secs, so that's as much as needed.

version 1: kick, hats, odd guitar chord and synth sounds that throw up odd squalls
version 2: rhythmic moog synth sequence with a couple of atmospheric sounds on top

Monday 1 August 2016

Improved microphone setup

Added a SE Electronics RF-X Reflexion filter and an Oktava 319 mic to the setup, resulting in a far better vocal sound as witnessed in this song, Urban Wildlife. Would be better still if I could sing! The Oktava goes through an existing Black Lion Audio Auteur pre-amp and a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 audio interface.

Real problem with the new setup was having a European-standard mic stand, into an American-standard reflection filter and onto a European-standard shockmount supporting a Russian-standard mic, each standard having different diameter fittings, so it's adapters all the way round.

Friday 10 June 2016

Presence controls

Have to admit I never knew what they actually do but here's a good, clear explanation.

When playing an amp cleanly, increasing the presence control simply results in more upper midrange and treble.
When pushing an amp into distortion, though, the presence control behaves differently. It changes the “texture” of the distortion and adds complexity to the sound, making the amp feel a little “less predictable” for higher notes.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Spring reverb

Love the sound of the Catalinbread Topanga but as I record mostly and seldom play live, buying one would make little sense.

Instead, it struck me as more sensible to try to get the same sort of sound in Logic Pro, though the spring reverb sounds in Space Designer lacked the liveliness of the Topanga, particularly in the area of 'splash'. Eventually settled on a 3rd party plug-in, Aegean's Spirit Reverb

Generally, pretty happy with it though as it's new I must admit I'm saturating the guitar tracks a bit, and still only using the Vintage Spring settings.

More examples of what it can do here  

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Compressors and harmonic content

Excellent article here

Also like the idea of using two EQs, a 'surgical' one before the compressor and a second to shape it after the compressor (and anything else that alters harmonic content, e.g. amp simulator).

Friday 8 April 2016

Logic Pro X Compressor Types

Fully explained here

Personally I tend to use:
  • Platinum for ducking as it's pretty neutral in terms of sound
  • Studio VCA (= Focusrite Red) on guitars for its brightness
  • Classic VCA (= dbx 160) across the drums due to its fast attack
  • Vintage FET (= 1176) on vocals, seems to add a slight, pleasant colouring
  • Vintage Opto (= LA-2A) on bass, just seems to work best

Saturday 2 April 2016

Usual aux bus assignments

Reverb channels

1 - Short reverb (Bigger bathroom) or tape delay set for slapback echo => 7
2 - Medium reverb (Ambience) => 7
3 - Spring reverb (Old spring) => 7


10 - Drums => Stereo out
11 - Bass => Stereo out
12 - Guitars => Stereo out
13 - Keyboards => 7
14 - Vocals => 7
15 - Centred guitars => 7


7 - Stereo imaging => Stereo out

Monday 21 March 2016

Stereo imaging

Stereo imaging

I've been putting the imaging plug-in on the stereo out of a mix, when it's unnecessary on anything already panned. So it occurred to me to put it just on its own bus and to put all the channels that need it through that rather than directly to a stereo mix. Basically, anything centred other than bass and kick, but mainly vocals, synths, guitar solos and reverb channels. In terms of settings, use the mid and high preset, and increase the order parameter a little.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

DnB style "distressed timestretch" in Logic Pro X

At the start of the 90s in Drum n Bass there was a "distressed timestretch" effect that was widely used but has since fallen out of favour. An example can be found on the Flirt With Danger track, Dr Manhatten. I found out how to do this from a web page which I've been unable to find again, otherwise I'd give the author the credit for this.

Select an audio area in the song you wish to use; only short areas will work due to a limitation of the Exs24 sampler. Click on it while holding down the ctrl key and select Convert to new sampler track.
 This will give you a new track with the audio region loaded into the Exs24 sampler and a midi region to play it. The original audio region will be muted. Open the midi region in the editor window, it should look like this:
Now shorten the single midi note and duplicate it until you get something like this:
 If you play this region now, you'll get a Paul Hardcastle style stutter. Next open Midi draw in the editor and pick a midi control that you never normally use, in this case I chose #13. Set a point with value 0 at the start of the region and 128 at the end. This will give you steadily increasing values of control #13 throughout the stuttering, though I find it sounds better if it increases rapidly to begin with then slower, to do this, click somewhere on the diagonal line and raise this point upward.
 Next open the Exs24 sampler and assign a controller with the source as Ctrl #13 and the destination to Sample start. Set the 'via' part of the controller to any used midi control, you can use the same control as the source. This splits the little arrow head: keep the bottom half in the centre and move the top half all the way up, so that it looks like this:
You should now get the "distressed timestretch" effect. If it remains as a stutter it may be the original audio region is too long - if so split it into 2 or more pieces and stretch them separately.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Zero Day

Zero Day 28/2/2016


Played in the 'Bo Diddley' called & response basic rhythm on drum pads then used Logic Pro Drummer to create a drum track based on it. Next came rhythm guitar; other instruments were added around it. Words came from a sci-fi novel I'll probably never get round to writing.


Drums: Brooklyn kit. Kick on intro separated out and used to duck the opening chord to allow it to sound through.
Bass: Rickenbacker 4003SW
Rhythm guitar: Squier CV Tele
Lead guitar: Gretsch Champagne Sparklejet with some LogicPro clip distortion added
Verse synth: Retrosynth Berlin Xperience with some ringshift effect added
Chorus synth: Alchemy Canyon Clouds
Intro/outro synth: Alchemy Atmospheric Phenomenon
Vocal samples taken for 'zero day' and 'don't sign up' with plenty  of tape delay, plus flanger on "don't sign up"


Zero Day



Tuesday 23 February 2016

Love Journey 19/2/2016

Love Journey 19/2/2016

One-off R&B song.


Started with an experimental drum beat played in on digital pads. As it seemed quite funky, added a Tamla-style Logic Pro Drummer track and one of the Motown tambourine loops. Later used the original beat as congas using the Garage Band latin kit. Funk-style rhythm guitar added. Lead guitar channeled Ernie Isley's playing from 3+3.


Drums: Brooklyn kit from Drum Designer, kick and snare tuned up, GarageBand latin kit.
Bass: Rickenbacker 4003SW
Rhythm guitar: Squier CV50 Telecaster
Lead guitar: Fender American Special Strat, bridge p/u through Ehx Big Muff. Also compressed heavily in post-processing. 
Additional guitar: Gretsch 5127, clean setting.
Synths: Own Retro Synth patch, Analog Funk Wah. 2 Alchemy patches, Crystal Sun and Floating.
Vox: 3 tracks plus sampled female "oohs"

Output chain

Channel EQ with hard cut 29.5Hz, small boost 1.5KHz, small cut 3.5KHz and shelving filter boost from 7KHz up as 'air'.
Cytomic's The Glue compressor to provide 'glue'.
ToneBoosters ReelBus tape saturation.
Stereo imaging.
Adaptive limiter.

The track

Flirt With Danger

Flirt With Danger is a virtual band, in that in consists of just one member, me, and a home studio. There are no other humans involved due to the difficulty of finding kindred spirits in a small town. I used to play keyboards in a couple of London rock bands, Brilliant Pink and Aunt May. I also worked in a trio making drum'n'bass, which went through miriad name changes, recording a single as Tectonic, ans a final CD collection as Khan, Neale and Rowley.

The FWD music is mainly based on rockabilly and 60s garage, with a bit of punk and alt-country thrown in. Software synths are heavily used, with some songs having a science fiction basis to the lyrics.

Prime instrument is guitar, and my most common setup is either a Gretsch Tennessee Rose or a Squier CV BSB Telecaster, going through a Nocturne Atomic Brain, a Fulltone OCD and a TC Electronics Flashback, the latter set to slapback. For recording I use a Rift 5C amp, miked by a Shure SM58.

Bass comes from a Rickenbacker 4003SW, DI'ed from a Laney practice amp.

Vocals are done through a Sontronics STC-20. I freely admit my vocals are awful and I'd like someone to take over singing and writing lyrics.

The mics are amplified by a Black Lion Audio Auteur and recorded into an iMac running Logic Pro X. Monitors are a pair of JBL 305s.

Most of the recordings are original music, with covers mainly for practice when songs have some way to go in the pipeline.

My favourite tracks:
Most popular one though is a Link Wray cover, with more plays than the rest put together: Fire And Brimstone